Refugee Camp in Burma Credit: Andrew Day Photography
Aberdeen, Scotland: The Global Minorities Alliance University of Aberdeen student society is organising a photo exhibition during student festival, held from the 26th – 30th October on campus to highlight events beyond the usual focus of the media and our TV screens. The daily lives of refugees fleeing persecution, wars and conflicts from Burmese state oppression to the refugee crisis at the heart of Europe will be exhibited through art and photography.
The event will engage the wider student community in Aberdeen, and is also open to the public. The society is promoting the event and encouraging people to share the invitation with their friends and family.
‘It is just a small gesture of our contribution towards this huge crisis that we as students at Aberdeen University care about, and we are thankful for the contributions of the artists for a good cause’ said the secretary of the society, Salla Hänninen, who studies sociology with politics and International relations at the university.
In recent past, more people have been killed in the name of religion than for any other thing in the world. Religion has become a symbol of death, terror and agony. Subsequently, a recent Pew Research “Changing U.S. Religious Landscape” shows the decline of religious affiliation in the United States. The study finds there are more adults who consider themselves ‘unaffiliated’ with any other form of religion than those who subscribe to a certain faith. This bludgeoning disaffection and disenchantment is partly the product of what we witness in the world around us – terror in the name of religion.
“Humanitarian crises fuelled by waves of terror, intimidation, and violence have engulfed an alarming number of countries over the past year”, maintains Commissioner Dr Katrina Lantos Swett of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
In its 2015 annual report the USCIRF catalogues the horrors of religious led terror groups and their affiliates affecting millions of lives around the world. This axis of death and destruction of sheer human lives continues to haunt innocent children, women and men of all faiths around the world.
Leader of the Central Council of Yezidis in Germany, Telim Tolan formed a task force with a delegation of doctors from the association “Kurdish Doctors in Germany” and a ZDF (German public TV station) camera team, travelling through the refugee camps in South Kurdistan since 18th August 2014. On behalf of the leading commission of Yezidi organizations, Tolan collects information on the current status in Northern Iraq.
After having seen touching but somewhat reassuring images in the Turkish part of Kurdistan, the task force moved on to South Kurdistan where they observed a dramatic change in the situation. Contrary to what is reported by some bigger media representatives or relief agencies, the situation in Northern Iraq is a disaster. Refugees with just enough food to stay alive and some form of shelter are considered lucky.
Telim Tolan continued his journey together with Kovan Khanki, Yezidi lectuerer at the University of Dohuk. On 20thAugust they arrived in Derebun, a village 10kms to the east of Zakho, currently accomodating 45,000 refugees. 40,000 of those are living in a camp that has already exhausted all its capacities. The other 5,000 are living on the streets. Deeply concerned about these suffering human beings, the task force moved on to Xanik where they saw another 65,000 refugees camping on the streets, in schools, and abandoned buildings or construction sights. The journey on the next day to Shariya, a small place with about 25,000 refugees could only yield a repetition of these images. Meetings with the refugees were intense and the stories they heard in every place were gruesome. Surely, Tolan and Khanki would have seen similar images in many other places of South Kurdistan.